Monday, May 30, 2016
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
We set a goal at the beginning of the year to try to make scripture study happen more regularly. We're setting aside a little bit of money each month toward something fun at the end of the year if we can get through the whole Book of Mormon this year. I figured we needed to read 20 chapters a month and that means we only need to read 2/3 of the time. Since we do try to read daily that didn't sound hard, but the reality is that we are currently a little bit behind. That's been eye opening to realize how those "oh well, we'll for sure do it tomorrow" days add up. So we're trying harder. I have a little chart that we color that helps us stay on track.
Right now some good things are happening with our family scripture study, and that makes me happy. For years, we didn't have much of a system as to who read: usually the Badger or I would just read most of the chapter, maybe trading off halfway. Maybe one of the kids would read a verse, or a column, or something, but there was no set system. Recently, we started doing what my family did when I was little. We take turns reading, moving around the room in a circle, and everyone reads two verses. I like this because it makes everyone pay attention so they're ready for their next turn. It's a little more effort at first because you have to make sure every reader has a set of scriptures in front of them, and with a big chaotic family that can seem like a monumental task. We recently got new sets of scriptures for the older kids who didn't have them yet, so at the moment we have the advantage of kids excited about a chance to use their new scriptures. I hope that by the time that excitement wears off, we will have established a habit.
People are always telling me how chill they are. They are pretty mellow, which is such a blessing. They do egg each other on when it comes to mischief though.
They love stuffed animals and books. And my cell phone. And chewing on the charge cord for my cell phone. We have had to buy six or seven new charge cords over the last several months because the twins ruin them when they chew on them. I try to keep them out of their reach, but they somehow always find them.
In these pictures Twig is on the left and Leaf is on the right.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Oh, Peanut! Let's try again.
Oh, Frog! One more time.
That's a pretty good one. Now let's take a peek inside.
A few days after our first strawberry patch trip I went back again with just Frog and Fish. We had such a fun time! Taking a three year old to a berry patch is kind of a gamble, but Frog turned out to be really awesome to pick strawberries with. He had an eye for the biggest, reddest, roundest berries and those were the only ones he would pick.
If a strawberry was not ripe yet, he would say it was "getting to be a strawberry."
"That one's a strawberry and that one's getting to be a strawberry."
I've been pondering that for a few days now. It's kind of profound. For those of us who are striving to become something, it puts a different spin on it to say we're "getting to be" that. "It's not ripe yet" versus "getting to be a strawberry." It's another way of looking at people around us, maybe people who are struggling or aren't ready yet for the next step in whatever progression (homeschool, running, spiritual progression, whatever.) We may all be a little unripe still, but with some sunshine, some rain, and some time, we can all get to be strawberries.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Here's what I wrote in my little phone diary yesterday and today.
First thing in the morning I worked in the yard. It was pretty muddy but I did get some good things done in little bits here and there. I pulled out all the radish plants that had gone to seed. I don't know why the leaves grew so big but not the roots. We never really had any radishes to eat from that group that the Badger planted. Maybe the kids will have better luck with radishes in their gardens.
Late morning I worked in the kitchen making pie for my birthday tomorrow. The Badger mowed the lawn and did some weed eating along the edges of the front flower beds. He had to work hard to get the weed eater to work but he finally figured it out and the front yard looks so nice.
After lunch I took the Rabbit and we went to a baptism at the church for a boy in her Primary class. They had asked me to play the piano. I enjoyed that; I always enjoy playing the piano. By the time the baptism was over Bean and Fish had turned up at the church. They had been at a Young Men's activity at a park in a nearby town. They had a really fun time. i am glad to see my boys developing good relationships with the other boys at church. We have some great young men in our ward.
I sent the kids all home with Sister M and I went grocery shopping by myself: what luxury!
Then I took a nap. It was late in the day at that point but I really needed it.
The Badger got going making my official birthday dinner. I had asked for Navajo tacos. He rolled the fry bread out very thin, so it was very crispy. It was amazingly delicious but by the time we were all done eating most of us felt pretty awful from eating so much oil. I don't think I want to have Navajo tacos again for my birthday dinner, and I think I shall be eating very little fried food from here on out.
Fish invited me to come outside and lie on a blanket on the back lawn with him. We looked up at the sky and watched the stars come out. We saw bats flying around. It was lovely.
Happy birthday to me!
We were on time to church for once, but that was just because we left Bean behind. We were all ready to go and he was just crawling out of bed.
The kids were pretty wiggly during Sacrament Meeting, particularly Frog. The Badger left partway through to go pick up Bean; he took Twig with him. After Sacrament Meeting I took Leaf into the nursery for the first time. She sat on my lap for a long while, then she started playing a little bit with toys. Then it was snack time; she was very hesitant about eating at first but then she got going and ate what the boy next to her left as well as her own. Then it was coloring time, which she was okay with. She sort of knew what to do with the crayons. Then music time, which she seemed to like. Twig showed up at that point. By then Leaf was pretty comfortable with things so I had Twig on my lap. After music they got out play dough. Leaf kept trying to eat it. Twig just sat in my lap. Then it was time to go.
I can't believe the twins are old enough for nursery. It's just so weird to go in there and see all these little kids and then see that my twins are their size and not baby size anymore.
I needed a long nap after church, since I didn't get much sleep last night. I slept deep. That was good. Best birthday present I could get was a big nap.
The D. family from our ward came over in the evening. We had nachos (pretty much what we had yesterday except on chips instead of fry bread) and later, pie. I made two kinds of pie. Yesterday I baked a strawberry rhubarb pie as well as an empty crust. Today I made a fresh strawberry pie with the empty crust. And there was vanilla ice cream too. So we kind of had a lot of dessert. But, pie. Yeah. The strawberry rhubarb was the best. I am so full. I feel like a python after a large meal.
Brother D worked with Bean on scout stuff, getting him signed off on the Sustainability merit badge finally. That means he now qualifies for Life Scout. Wow! We are on the final stretch of the trail to Eagle!
Having Bean move forward in scouting was a wonderful birthday present for me... after all the confusion of his scout records over so many different moves I have been eager to help him get it all sorted out and get moving forward. Figuring out how to get him to finish the Sustainability merit badge has been bugging me for months, so really it was a great present. The kids gave me some lip balm and some candy, but the Badger and I agreed that money is tight so I was fine with not really getting any presents this year. I did have a couple of nice cards, and Sister D brought me some little presents like a candle and a small notebook that made me happy.
I hope I get a better night's sleep tonight. Right now Leaf keeps me up late and then Twig always wakes up quite early in the morning (6ish). Sometimes this means I only get 5 hours of sleep. I would definitely like this amount to increase!
Saturday, May 21, 2016
We tried to get a family photo afterward... it didn't work so well. Can you see Frog hiding under me?
So we pulled him out and the Badger held him, but he must have been feeling really insecure because he's holding onto my hair, which is his security blanket.
You can see from these pictures how the Rabbit was just bursting with joy all through the service. My Rabbit is so full of love and enthusiasm. She is an absolutely delightful person who is going to make a big difference in this world. I am so grateful to be her mother!
Thursday, May 19, 2016
I got up one fine May morning and dressed the twins in cute matching outfits. I had just switched their clothes over to size 18 month summer clothes, and there were all these darling outfits from my friend Sarah. For this morning I picked the matching outfits with the khaki pants and the pastel shirts with cute lace on the sleeves.
Then we went outside to work in the garden. It had rained, so I went around dumping water out of containers that had standing water in them. The big blue tub had had dirt in the bottom, so after I dumped out the water I noticed there was a couple inches of mud in the bottom. I set it aside to deal with later, and went and got busy weeding.
The twins somehow found that blue bucket immediately. By the time I noticed, their clothes were already stained, so I figured I would just let them go to town. It was so cute watching them. They had the time of their lives!
Thank goodness for stain remover spray!
Monday, May 9, 2016
Sometimes my crazy idea of taking up running doesn't seem like it's getting anywhere. The progress, which started out rapid, has been very slow these last couple of months, and in fact has seemed nonexistant for weeks at a time.
Sometimes I don't run as often as I should; my goal is three times a week but I am a homeschooling mom of eight and there have been weeks when I was lucky to get one chance to run.
Sometimes I think I am pushing myself too hard. I am a homeschooling mom of eight who is nursing twins, for heaven's sake. I can't waste all my strength on exercise.
When I run, I pray for the help of heaven to encourage me and help me keep my thoughts positive and also to help me know when I am really overdoing it. These prayers work.
I know I need heavenly help because I know this is really important right now, and it's hard for me. I feel very driven to improve my health and stamina at this time, even with all I have on my plate. This is not easy for me for so many reasons, and there are a lot of negative voices in my head that encourage me Not to run, or make me want to hate it while I am doing it, and then stop as soon as possible. So I pray for help, and it comes as gentle encouragement while I trot along.
Last Friday I did something that for years of my life I would have thought was impossible. In fact I don't know that I have ever done it before, even as a child. I jogged an entire mile without taking a walk break. It took me more than four months of training to be able to do that, but it finally happened.
Today I did it again. It wasn't horribly hard. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. My time was 13:10, which isn't much faster than my mile time has been for awhile now, walking probably a third of the distance. So I was jogging even slower than usual, and my usual is already slow.
But knowing that I can sustain even a slow jog for that distance is so empowering to me. If I keep at this, it really will happen that someday I will be able to run an entire 5K without walking, which is still hard for me to imagine.
I am planning on running my first race at the end of the month. (Anne, I wish it would have worked out to do that KC Temple run with you; maybe next year?) I expect that I will run about 2/3 of the distance in short chunks and walk the rest. My goal is to finish in less than 45 minutes. I will probably be on the tail end of the finishers, but I will feel really good about that time.
Last Friday after I ran that mile I continued on to complete five kilometers (walking and running) and my time was 45:37. So I know I can do this!
I am grateful for running. I am grateful for chunks of time away from kids and chaos where I can think. I really don't have the time for it, but I need it so badly. I am grateful for the increase in stamina and cardiovascular health. I can really feel the difference. I love the direction this is going, and the thought that if I just keep at it I will keep getting better.
And I love the manifestation of the idea that sometimes you think what you're doing isn't working and that you're not getting anywhere and then one day, boom! There you are. My hope is that I will see that in my homeschool efforts as well.
Friday, May 6, 2016
We are totally loving this honeysuckle bush on our back deck!
Here you can see where I've been planting things out front. I planted several plants each of salvia, blanketflower, and echinacea. My friends gave me the celosia (the small plants with red leaves) and while it was not something I would have picked out myself at the nursery I am loving the contrast it provides.
Here's two of the spirea, with the crape myrtle behind. The red-leafed barberry bush on the left and the large yew on the right came with the house. The barberry has been nicknamed "the Youch bush" because of the prickles. Some of us want to tear it out... we shall see.
Two more spirea with one more crape myrtle on the other side of the bay window:
And here we are working in our garden plots out back. Don't let Fish's face fool you. He's loving it out there, as are we all.
I am sorry if I was kind of gloomy on here last week. It turned out I was coming down with a bit of a cold and that was making me extra tired.
I truly love teaching my children. I think I am a good teacher, and I am very grateful that I can have them home with me. I also do worry about being spread too thin. And I want to make sure Bean has a high school experience that will open the doors of his future and not hold him back. I would love to see some or all of the kids branch out more and have more experiences outside the home in the near future. But if the Spirit guides me to school all of them home next year, I will do it gladly, I will give it my all, and I am sure that along with frustration and fatigue we will have a lot of really wonderful times.
In the mean time, we have a garden to grow!
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Looking at our front landscaping, I knew I needed a large shrub to go right next to the front door. I thought about it, and decided a crape myrtle would be just the ticket. Then someone from church posted on Facebook that she was digging some crape myrtles out of her yard and did anyone want them? ME! I hurried over there and got two crape myrtles-- might as well put on on the other side of the bay window to match! She also had several spirea bushes and when I saw them I knew they'd be perfect in my front bed as well. I got four of those.
I spent yesterday evening planting these treasures. It was so fun digging around in the dirt, and they look so good out there! I have to say that there is a chance the crape myrtles won't survive the transplant, as they were already looking upset when I picked them up, but I have been talking to them and telling them how much I love them and need them, so hopefully they will perk up in their new home.
Some friends dropped by yesterday and gave me a few pretty annuals they had extra, so I planted those too, and I am pretty excited about the way my front yard is looking right now.
I love my house, I love my yard, and I love my neighborhood. These things are a great blessing to me right now.
We have seven more weeks of our homeschool year, and I must confess that I'm worn out. I'm looking forward to summer break, and of course the kids are too. Some of our subjects are already wrapping up, which makes our days a little easier, but other subjects will have to stay on full blast in order to be done by our deadline. For the most part, the kids have gradually improved in their ability to work diligently and independently, but as the year draws to a close it's hard to keep all of us on task, even me sometimes.
What to do next year is weighing heavily on my mind. I do not like how thin I was spread this year, and I want to make sure Bean doesn't get shortchanged when it comes to High School. So I am re-examining every option out there: public school, private school, online school, co-ops, supplemental activities... this can be frustrating and discouraging. I have a strong thirst for excellence in education. I have seen the power of a good education, as well as the problems that are caused by a lack of one. I have spent untold hours studying education and educational methods. I am very drawn to certain private schools because of the high quality of education, but they are completely out of our budget at this point. Sometimes I think maybe if we scrimp and eat lots of ramen noodles and get some financial aid that maybe we could afford to send one of our kids to a private school, but it's really still not feasible at this point. I am more and more dismayed with the public school system for so many reasons, and when I think about sending my kids there it just really feels really really wrong. I still think about it a lot, because there are a lot of good things available there that I would like my children to have (band! drama! science labs!) but every time I think about it I just get this NO! feeling in my heart. The co-ops around here don't tend to be accepting of LDS people, which is extremely frustrating, especially since some of them are extremely well-organized and have some great offerings for high schoolers. Efforts to rally the local LDS homeschooling community have fizzled.
I trust the Lord. I've said it before, they are His children, not mine. He has a plan for them. If He is telling me no about certain options, it means that there will be a yes and it will be what it right for my kids, even if it wouldn't be my top pick. I think my top pick at this point would be to have $25,000 magically appear so that I could dress five of my children in smart-looking uniforms each morning and drop them off at the classical Christian private school, then go home and enjoy the relative peace and quiet of just Frog and the twins... what a dream. I am so tired.
Do you suppose our pioneer ancestors had days as they trudged across the plains when they dreamed of having a nice carriage appear with servants to cook their meals and do their laundry? And inns to sleep in every night along the way? They probably did sometimes. (And if they'd known about the cars and freeways and hotels and fast-food restaurants that would someday line their very route, they might not have been able to stand it!) They probably had many days where they questioned what on earth they had gotten themselves into. I bet there wasn't a day when they weren't exhausted by the time they fell into their bedroll.
But they kept going. And I will, too. I will just keep doing my best. It's okay to be exhausted. I will keep trusting that the Lord will provide what my children really need, when they need it.
And I will find peace and rejuvenation in the green beauty of May!